The Big Conglomerates and Media Ownership Consolidation:
The Case Against Media Consolidation (2007) by Mark Cooper et al., can be downloaded for free.
Media Concentration and Democracy: Why Ownership Matters (2006) and Media Markets and Democracy (2001) by C. Edwin Baker et al. Robert McChesney says Baker is "One of the most thoughtful and important media scholars of our time... Baker lays out the case that democracy requires a media system not simply in existence to maximize profits for corporations. This book should be read by all media scholars, activists, and citizens concerned about democracy's future."
The Problem of the Media (2004) by Robert McChesney is an indispensable exploration of the political struggle over media ownership standards and the burgeoning media democracy movement from the nation's leading media reform expert. The book can be viewed as a sequel to his 1999 classic, Rich Media/Poor Democracy. Together these are essential reading for those concerned about corporate control of the media.
Digital Destiny (2007) by Jeff Chester analyzes the new digital media platforms and how corporations are attempting to lock them in. If you want to understand what the fight for "network neutrality" is about this is a must read.
Media Monopoly (2004) by Ben Bagdikian is a critical assessment of the monopolistic ownership structure of the media. Regularly updated since 1983. When Bagdikian first issued this book in 1983, there were over 50 U.S. media conglomerates that controlled almost all media content. Now there are just five. The NoNonsense Guide to the Global Media is a tight summary of the same topic.
Critiques of the Media:
Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism by Robert McChesney and Ben Scott, eds.
Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media (2006) by David Edwards and David Cromwell dissects the media’s handling of the Iraq war.
Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, The Business of News, and the Danger to Us All by Tom Fenton, a former CBS Senior Foreign Correspondent’s critique of the decline of substantive journalism.
Tell Me Lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq (2004) is a collection of essays by leading media critics and investigative journalists.
When News Lies is the latest book by Danny Schechter, "the news dissector".
Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander and Boxed In by Mark Crispin Miller are two classic critiques of television.
Leaving Readers Behind: The Age of Corporate Newspapering (2004) by Gene Roberts et al. traces the disturbing changes in the newspaper industry resulting from corporate control. One of the authors is the editor of the American Journalism Review's excellent State of the American Newspaper series.
News Incorporated: Corporate Media Ownership and Its Threat to Democracy (2005) edited by Elliot D. Cohen is a collection of essays by some of the leading voices in media reform.
Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company by Gilbert Cranberg et al. is a dissection of the structure of newspaper corporations and how the business side constricts reporting.
Media and the Law:
Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (2004) by Lawrence Lessig is an entertaining, carefully articulated and researched review of the current copyright wars and how large corporations use the law to stifle innovation. Lessig exposes the entertainment industry's effort to expand the definitions of piracy to appropriate additional portions of the digital commons. Along with his previous book, The Future of Ideas, and Dan Schiller's Digital Capitalism explore the corporate threat to open sources of knowledge, including the Internet.
Democracy, Inc. by David Allen analyzes how the conflation of speech rights and corporate values have warped our understanding of democracy and the role of the media.
Investigative Journalism and Independent Media:
The Great Reporters by David Randall discusses the lives of William Howard Russell, A. J. Liebling, George Seldes, Ann Leslie, Ernie Pyle and other reporters.
Shaking the Foundations: 200 Years of Investigative Journalism in America by Bruce Shapiro (ed.) is a sweeping anthology.
The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel is useful for anyone beginning a journalism career. Other good books for include Citizen Muckraking: How to Investigate and Right Wrongs in Your Community by the Center for Public Integrity.
We the Media by Dan Gillmor is a good introduction to grassroots journalism.
The Project Censored Guide to Independent Media and Activism by Peter Phillips is a good compilation of independent media sources.
Fighting for Air (2007) by Eric Klinenberg examines the corporate takeover of local news and what it means for communities.
The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting by David Barsamian is a good short overview of the Pacifica struggle and battles over PBS.